It would have been easier to start today’s text with the title “The Christmas Turkey”. But, aside from the possibility of the column becoming a meme, I chose Tangará pastry shop to take you on a less obvious – and perhaps tastier – route.
While we are talking about travel here, we are also (and a lot) talking about food! And yes, I know you might be reading this in this pre-supper tension, not to mention Christmas lunch the next day.
In fact, before leaving, a merry Christmas!
But back to the Tangará pastry shop. I woke up today thinking of that sweet treat that I ate a few days ago as I was crossing the Rio Grande do Norte and passing precisely through the city of Tangará.
I was on my way to Santa Cruz, for a story on the impressive sculpture of Santa Rita de Cássia, when the car stopped and someone said to me: “You have to try this pastel!”. I became curious.
I grew up in São Paulo, where the open markets educated my palate with the best stuffed fried dough which, the way we consume, I have only tried in Brazil. Which pastel would challenge São Paulo’s hegemony?
My curiosity was quenched by the chicken and the sun meat. And indeed, what a delight! He deserves the fame and all the image that has been built around him: people from all over the country come by to taste the delicacy.
Pastel made me travel to other places, other dishes that were so good, they marked a journey. Or even a Christmas.
Like the goat fan that was served to my group of family and friends at supper 2011. There was also the milleft game bird in Avignon, France, for a Christmas lunch. And more!
The “raw” milk that my aunt Ordélia proudly prepared for the family on the 25th. The cod that Lucas, chef of Brutos, cooked for our last New Year’s Eve in Paris (and it was delicious, even after 80% of sauce leak on the bike path we met!).
But the storyline wasn’t just in the holiday season. I remembered specific dishes that, although they were not typical, already made me go back to certain places to taste them.
Like the garlic-cured beef from Luang Prabang in Laos. Or the matching ice cream from a mall in Bangkok. The diced tapioca Picuí in Maceió. Any Chori sandwich in Buenos Aires.
Pataniscas do Terroso, in Cascais, Portugal. Ceviche from Chez Wong in Lima.
Each delight, a memory. Or rather several! From a mango juice to accompany a supposed spaghetti carbonara in the Siemen Mountain Park in Ethiopia, to the lamb kebab at Karim’s in New Delhi.
You have to put a limit on your memory at this point, otherwise it will not escape this vortex of memories and flavors. I think it will be a little chocolate Christmas tree waiting for me for dinner today.
Really small, just under 30cm. In the description of the website of the Alain Ducasse chocolate factory, its charm seems to disappear: six chocolate hexagons, “organic” cereals, dried fruits and caramelized almonds – accompany a pair of white gloves for its assembly.
Ah! At the end of the text, they add: “Surprising, playful and greedy” (surprising, playful and greedy). But words for what?
What this tree gives me is the image of a corner where all loved ones can fit in. A “pied de terre” in Paris where I am happy to gather, around this tree, the people I love the most. Or, at least, gathered …
The pandemic has shattered a tradition of nearly a decade, but not the record of many Merry Christmases. If I’m not here now, I can definitely travel wherever I want in my imagination. Just taste a little piece of chocolate that my dear friend Maria Fernanda was kind enough to bring to Brazil.
A gentle gesture. Of love. That’s all we need this Christmas. In addition, perhaps, a tangará pastry.
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